UKIP claims that there is a massive threat to our local services from 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians having the right to live and work in the UK.
Let us analyse these claims without prejudice.
First, the total population of Bulgaria and Romania according to European statistics is 25.9 million so where are the extra 3.1million claimed by UKIP?
Secondly, if we are to consider Poland as an example of mass migration from a former Eastern European state then present figures give 521,000 Polish born individuals living in the UK from a total population of 38.5 million who have the right to live and work here.
These immigrants, representing 1.3 per cent of those who have that right, give a positive plus one per cent (over £10bn) increase to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) much needed in these times of financial austerity.
If, therefore 1.3 per cent of the total population of Bulgaria and Romania were to migrate to the UK then we might expect 336,700 migrants to the UK – although recent research suggests that the majority will prefer to go to Italy and Germany in preference to the UK and that they will only come here if they have already secured employment. Hardly a drain on our benefit resources. Those migrating from Bulgaria alone might amount to around 94,000.
At a recent conference I was harangued by an individual who believed that there might be more than four million Bulgarians coming here when restrictions were lifted.
He would not accept that many who came were hard-working people who were often too proud to accept benefit.
One Bulgarian student of mine, at a time when Bulgarians were required to pay full fees (£12,000) when the fee for home students was only £1,000, worked extremely hard whilst he studied in order to pay his way through his degree. He is now a top satellite communication engineer and working in this country contributing a great deal to our financial needs.
After the conference my protagonist said that he was not ‘getting at me’ but trying to redress the frightening influx of Bulgarians he believed (from the kind of propaganda mentioned above) were coming to our country.
I stated that as I knew Bulgaria well having been involved in developing higher education there, I was particularly concerned about the fear tactics and unsubstantiated claims being employed to stop immigration.
His reply was telling, ‘Oh I also know Bulgaria well since I own a holiday home on the Black Sea coast and go there regularly’.
In 2007 there were already 30,000 homes in Bulgaria owned by UK residents. I was aware of this activity during the time I was associated with Bulgaria and heard many UK residents boasting of the cheap housing they had been able to purchase and the profits they would be able to make - putting the price of property way above the pockets of the Bulgarians themselves.
So it appears, for those who would have us believe in the dangers of immigration, that it is alright for UK people to go to Bulgaria for cheap living - but- not alright for Bulgarians to come here to live and work, 30,000 homes in Bulgaria owned by UK residents with an average of three persons to each home amounts to 90,000 people going to Bulgaria.
If we accept the premise that 1.3 per cent of the total population of Bulgaria is likely to come to the UK then this amounts to 94,000 individuals.
This seems to be equitable and rather more reasoned than the exaggerated propaganda from UKIP designed to frighten the electorate.
Remember 64 million UK residents have the right to live and work in the rest of Europe as well.
Prof John Hobrough,
St Lawrence Terrace,